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TN NAFTA Professionals General Information

As a result of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican citizens have the benefit of applying for classification as a TN NAFTA Professional.

In order to apply for a TN visa, your position must be listed on the NAFTA list.  The list includes Accountants, Engineers, Lawyers, Pharmacists, Scientists and Teachers.

For the complete list of eligible professions see https://www.nafsa.org/_/file/_/amresource/8cfr2146.htm.

Almost all of the positions listed require a candidate to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or a state license.

Most IT-related positions are filed under the Engineer or Computer Systems Analyst positions.

The temptation to file as a Management Consultant.

For those scanning the list of professions that do not see their specific profession listed, there is a temptation to consider applying as a Management Consultant.

This profession is the only general profession on the list and because a candidate can qualify based on having either a Bachelor’s degree OR five years experience, as a Management Consultant, a lot of applications have been submitted under this category in an effort to try and obtain TN classification.

However, because of this and the fact that most applicants are not truly Management Consultants, this position has become subject to a high level of scrutiny.  A true Management Consultant will have been working as a Management Consultant already outside of the U.S. and ideally will have his/her own Management Consulting company.  If an employer files a TN for a Management Consultant position but intends for that person to be an employee then USCIS is likely to deny that application as a Management Consultant typically works on a contractor basis.

If you do not see your profession listed then it is probably because it was never intended to be eligible for TN classification.  Rather than file as a Management Consultant speaks to an experienced Immigration Attorney to discuss other visa options such as an H-1B, L-1, etc.

Eligibility for a TN NAFTA professional

  1. You must be a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
  2. Your profession must be on the NAFTA list;
  3. You have a bonafide offer of employment from a U.S. employer who requires a NAFTA professional; and
  4. You possess the necessary Bachelor’s degree or state license and experience (for some professions on the NAFTA list experience is also required).

Unlike the H-1B visa, the experience cannot be used or combined with education to obtain the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in a specific field.  This means the candidate must already possess a relevant degree.  For example, an individual with a Mechanical Engineering degree and 8 years of experience as a Software Engineer is likely to be able to obtain an evaluation from a University Professor confirming that the candidate has the U.S. equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering.  This evaluation can be used to obtain an H-1B approval.  Unfortunately, this would not work for a TN visa.  The candidate would need to already have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering to qualify for TN classification.

Requirements for Canadian citizens

Canadians have the easiest route to TN classification as typically they do not need a visa.  If you are a Canadian citizen you can go straight to the port of entry and seek TN classification before a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer by presenting documents demonstrating your eligibility.  This should include proof of Canadian citizen and an offer letter from your Employer confirming details of your proposed employment here in the U.S.

Requirements for Mexican citizens

Unlike Citizens of Canada, Citizens of Mexico are required to obtain a visa before coming to the U.S. and must schedule an interview at a U.S. Consulate in Mexico in order to demonstrate eligibility for TN classification. Proof of citizenship and a detailed offer letter are required.

Period of stay

An individual may be approved for TN status for up to 3 years.  Extensions of the TN visa are possible subject to a continuing offer of employment and there is no limit on how long an individual can remain in TN status.

Dependents of TN Professionals

Spouses and children under the age of 21 are eligible for TD status, but spouses are not eligible to work in TD status.

How we can help

The experienced Immigration Attorneys at Patel Law Group can first determine your eligibility for a TN visa and also discuss other possible visa options with you.  In the event that the Attorney deems the TN visa the best visa option we can assist in preparing a TN packet for you to take to the port of entry or U.S. Consulate.  This typically will include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Evidence of your Canadian or Mexican Citizenship;
  • The offer of employment to include the following:
    • Details of the position being offered;
    • A detailed description of the company, its products and services;
    • Your anticipated stay in the U.S. (cannot extend beyond 3 years);
    • A detailed description of your proposed job duties and responsibilities;
    • A detailed description of your education and experience and explaining why you are qualified to perform the duties of the TN position;
    • Arrangements for your pay.
  • Evidence of strong ties to your home country; and
  • Copies of your education, certificates, resume, etc.

If you are interested in applying for a TN visa please contact our Senior Immigration Attorney, Chris Prescott at cprescott@patellegal.com.

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